An Ocean of Energy (Edith Roosevelt)


6 February 1979

Miss Edith K. Roosevelt
1661 Crescent Place NW
Washington DC 20009

Dear Miss Roosevelt,

Your letter to ADEE of January 29 was shown to me, being an advisor to ADEE.

Your excellent article on “Green Oil” could be supplemented with a large number of renewable energy sources, some of them 100 years old, which as a nation we have refused to utilize, while screaming about an “Energy Crisis”.

OTEC — Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, which I have worked with since 1947 is only one of them, perhaps the best developed, having the most scientists, engineers and companies behind it, at least about 1000 top-grade people — but not enough to make even a dent in the central US Government, even though there are many dedicated workers inside the Government, who’d do anything to get started with the work.

At age 82 I have expanded to the general picture, technologically, economically, psychologically, nationally and internationally and see a choice before us just now, today: Begin a crash program now, or be damned. In about 20 years we are to see a more devastating depression than ever before realised, which will probably lead to war — a nuclear one — if we don’t start today. With a crash program, which the United States is beautifully suited for, temperamentally, economically and industrially– we can have self-sufficiency in 15 years. We could derive all our energy from either OTEC or Space satellites or a combination of Green oil, biomass, wind –but our temperament will never settle for one or a few choices, We have to build on a broad scale, we have to forget the narrow “fight against inflation” and suffer more and higher inflation for a while (because of the drift so far) until new energy systems make their impact — and inflation may be cured forever. “Down with the budget” is no remedy. What we use our money for is the deciding question. Today it is energy we need to develop — not the sorry trilogy oil-coal-nuclear, but the truly renewable sources. Oil executives are interested, have helped build the proper technology, but their “lobbyists” and some of their shareholders are another matter.

Nothing is more important than you newspaper people in the coming fight.

~~ Bryn Beorse

Beyond the Known
An Ocean Of Energy

by Edith Kermit Roosevelt

WASHINGTON – “There’s so much energy in the ocean that, if we develop 2 percent of it, we would have 100 times as much as the world is projected to need in the year 2000.”  These words are said by Norwegian-born engineer Bryn Beorse who brought the technology of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) to this country. At 82, still vigorously at work as a consultant to the Sea Water Conversion Laboratory at the University of California’s Richmond Field Station, Beorse is picking up support for his solar sea plan that he has worked with since 1947.

Calling OTEC “the best developed of renewable energy sources,” Beorse says that “reputable New Orleans shipyards have offered to build OTEC plants for less than half of the cost of nuclear plants built today. Since the OTEC fuel is free and nuclear fuel cost rises every day, this would seem remarkable.”

Beorse also cites testimony by TRW’s Robert Douglas who told Department of Energy officials that OTEC could now, today, be built competitive with nuclear-plants.

The system needs no fuel and uses only the sun as a heat source. It runs on the temperature difference between the warm surface layer of the ocean and the colder depths a thousand feet below, a difference of about 40 degrees.

The first attempt at an OTEC system in the United States, starting up next April, will be located in Hawaii. It is being developed by the State of Hawaii with the Lockheed Missiles and Space Co, of Sunnyvale, Calif., which is building the power plant. Hawaii’s Dillingham Corp. is modifying a Navy Barge lo carry the plant and install it with its suspended cold-water pipe a mile off Keahole Point.

The Hawaii plant will generate 40 kilowatts – enough for four or five homes. Tests are to continue some six months.

But Beorse would like to see far greater efforts made and he faults the Department of Energy for simply researching problems ‘that have already been solved instead of putting together working OTEC power plants.

Current funding for OTEC under DOE amounts to only $36 million compared to $903 million for oil and coal development and $3.5 billion for nuclear development.

Beorse would like to see these priorities reversed. He says DOE is continuing to study problems that have already been solved when a crash program involving renewable, nonpolluting energy sources could make our nation self-sufficient in 15 years. Beorse advocates to this end–OTEC or space satellites or a combination of oil from plants

According to ADEE (119 Ripley St., San Francisco, CA 94110), Beorse’s so-called “Utopian ideas” have picked up in recent years some heavy support from other energy researchers.

A little publicized report by the National Aeronautics and Space Agency issued in 1972 says “Tapping the energy of the Gulf Stream could supply all the electrical energy needs of the U.S. as far ahead as 1985 with only three tenths of a degree reduction in the temperature of the great warm ocean river.

This reduction may be beneficial as it would slightly offset the ocean’s thermal pollution due to other uses.”

In 1976, the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration concluded that the OTEC system could produce “at least 20 gigawatts” or 20 million kilowatts – by the year 2000, an amount about 3 times the estimated U.S. energy demand.”

*            *            *

SEA SOLAR POWER, Inc. of 2422 South Queen St., York, PA 17402, the pioneer in sea thermal power, says these systems have highly profitable spin off effects. They can make fresh water for irrigation and human consumption; hydrogen for synthetic fuel, methanol to replace or mix with gasoline, nitrogen, oxygen, ammonia and carbon dioxide for feedstock, and food fish to be nurtured on nutrient-rich cold water pumped from ocean depths.

The company says that if the value of the power and byproducts of thermal electric power are added together, the annual income of a typical 100 megawatt plant can amount to more than $100 million. Sea Solar Power Inc. expects to be able to mass produce such plants for about $50 million each.

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Filed under 1975-1980, 1979, Energy, OTEC, Shamcher

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